Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus waded into the Harry Reid-Mitt Romney tax drama on Sunday, calling the Senate majority leader a “dirty liar” for his accusation that Romney didn’t pay any taxes for a decade.
“As far as Harry Reid is concerned, listen, I know you might want to go down that road. I’m not going to respond to a dirty liar,” Priebus told ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos. “If that’s on the agenda, I’m not going go there. This is just a made-up issue.”
“You’re saying youre not going to go down that road?” Stephanopoulos responded. “You just called him a dirty liar. You stand by that — you think Harry Reid is a dirty liar?”
“I just said it,” Priebus said.
In an interview with The Huffington Post last week, Reid said he’d heard from an early Bain Capital investor that Romney didn’t pay taxes for a decade. A growing chorus of politicians on both sides of the aisle have called on the former Massachusetts governor to release more of his tax returns in order to dispel the rumor, but Priebus came up short of that.
“I think this president has a problem with the American dream,” Priebus said. “That he would trot out Harry Reid and try to divide this country and spread this division and hatred, it’s ridiculous, it’s wrong, it’s untrue.”
Reid spoksman Adam Jentleson issued a response to Priebus’ remark on Sunday, according to Buzzfeed: “Republicans can try to cover up for Mitt Romney’s stonewalling all they want, but this issue is not going away until Romney decides to be straight with the American people and release his tax returns. It is sad that the most secretive candidate since Richard Nixon has forced his party to defend his decision to hide the truth about his tax returns. As Senator Reid has said, an extremely credible source informed him that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for ten years.”
Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), also speaking on “This Week,” declined to specifically address Reid’s accusation, but she said Romney could end all the discussion by releasing his returns.
“I do know that Mitt Romney could clear this up in 10 seconds by releasing the 23 years of tax returns that he gave to John McCain when he was being vetted for vice president, ” Wasserman Schultz said. “Because one year of tax returns, like he’s released, could just be for show.”
Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod laid out essentially the same argument as Wasserman Schultz on Sunday, telling Fox News Sunday that Romney could quick “resolve” the issue by releasing the years of returns that he handed over to McCain.
“It was Governor Romney’s father who pioneered the release of tax returns when he ran for President,” Axelrod said, referencing Romney’s father George, who released 12 years’ worth of tax information for his failed 1968 White House bid. “Why don’t they put this to rest? What is it that he’s hiding?”